NASCAR Cup Series Ford Performance Daytona Media Day (Joey Logano)

Ford Performance Daytona Media Day (Joey Logano)

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JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion — HOW EXCITED WERE YOU TO SEE LAST SEASON END AND THIS YEAR START GIVEN YOUR STRUGGLES LAST YEAR? “Very. Last year was more of a struggle than any of us expected for sure. I thought toward the end of the year that we started to make some speed back in our race car. We started to run good, had a good run at Miami and Texas and those places. That was encouraging. To get down here and have a good run in the Clash and have all three Penske cars up front was fun to see. Making sure one of us at least won it – I was hoping it was me – but to have a 1-2 finish for Team Penske was great.”

I ASKED BRAD KESELOWSKI HOW YOUR MOOD WAS LAST YEAR. THE QUOTE HE USED WAS THAT YOU COULD KICK JOEY IN THE BALLS AND HE WOULD STILL SMILE. IS THAT TRUE? “When I don’t have a helmet on, yes. There are two Joey’s. Joey with a helmet and Joey without a helmet. I think every driver would tell you there is a big difference. I think there needs to be. I think to be successful you have to be that way. I enjoy life. Even in tough years like we had last year. It is just one season. We will get through it. We are strong enough. You have to be mentally strong enough to stay confident in yourself and your race team to fight through it and know that you are a championship caliber team. We just have to fight through the rough patch. I guess you have to stay positive and enjoy the opportunity you have. Even in the toughest year, it is still an opportunity people would kill to have.”

WHAT WAS IT THAT CLICKED FOR YOU GUYS AT THE END OF LAST YEAR? “I can’t tell you that.”

FORD WON ALL FOUR PLATE RACES LAST YEAR. IS THE CLASH A SIGN OF MORE TO COME? “I hope so. We do try to work together as much as we can, especially at these superspeedways. The Ford drivers are all on the same program. We get it that we need to work together to win. We get that. We all want to win. We all want to be the one hosting the trophy at the end but if we don’t work together, none of us will. It is really good that the drivers work together, the teams work together, the crew chiefs work together. That has been a big positive for us at these racetracks, especially with the segments and stage racing now. It is good to have that alliance out there.”

WHICH ONE OF THOSE UNDER-25 DRIVERS DO YOU THINK MIGHT ASCEND TO SUPERSTAR STATUS? “I think there are a few of them that will be superstars in our sport. It is hard to say exactly which ones, but I think two or three of them will end up being really good. The pressure that is on them is pretty large. If you are in your second or third year it is your, ‘you gotta go’, years. You have a grace period of a year or two to learn and then it is game on. There is a lot of opportunity for those guys, a lot of personality which is great for our sport. It is nice that they are coming in together. When I started I was a Lone Ranger coming in. There weren’t any other rookies really. Rookie of the Year wasn’t a huge deal because there weren’t many people to compete against. Now there is. That is exciting for our sport. Going through that transition with some of the greats retiring, there is a lot of young good talent. We aren’t just filling seats just to fill seats. There are good young drivers coming in. That is important for our sport to continue going.”

INAUDIBLE: “Darrell is great for the sport. We need him to be successful. It would be important for all of us to see that. It would be something that is historic for our sport that we haven’t really seen before. As a competitor, I want to beat him and that is normal but I also see from a global view of the industry and what we do every day that to have an African American driver be successful on the race track and in contention to win races would be very important for the growth of our sport outside of the fans we have right now.”

MANY TEAMS THAT HAVE A BAD YEAR LIKE YOU GUYS DID WILL MAKE CHANGES. DID YOU GUYS THINK ABOUT THAT OR DID YOU FEEL WHAT YOU HAD WAS STILL WORKING? “We were focused on working together and staying a team. It may be different if we never had success. That may be a different story. For us as a race team, ever since I have been at Team Penske, all but last year we have been in the playoffs, won multiple races and put ourselves in position to win championships multiple times. Three years in a row really, up to last year. Does anything really need to be changed? Maybe the way we look at things and move forward as a team. Do we need to change the team up? No, I don’t’ think so. We are still a competitive race team that is capable of winning multiple championships. We just have to get back to that. We are on that road right now. We are getting closer and closer back to where we were.”

BY THE END OF THE SEASON DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GOT OVER THE TOP? “There are still stressful moments. There has to be. When you are winning everything is great and you are happy and joking around. When you are not winning it is definitely a reality check all the way through. That is when you have to have the tough conversations about yourself as a driver or him as a crew chief, strengths and weaknesses of the team and how you get better. As long as we realize we are still confident in each other it is easy to have those conversations. You have to have them. Without tough conversations, your relationships never grow. It is the same thing in your marriage. You can put things to the side over and over again and eventually the little things blow up and the relationship goes to hell. It is the same with a driver and crew chief. You have to ask the tough questions and maybe not feel comfortable but you have to talk about it to get through it.”

DID YOUR WRECKS AT TALLADEGA AND KANSAS HAVE AN AFFECT LAST YEAR? “Not on me personally but I think it took the momentum away from the team. It was one thing after another and then you have your back against the wall. You have no speed in the car which leads to more crashes. You feel like you have to do something to make the playoffs. It snowballed the wrong way. We learned a lot from it. It wasn’t much fun but we learned a lot. I feel like every time I have gone through something like that in my career or life in general, God has taught me something more valuable than winning a championship. I have gone through something like this in my life before and I got an opportunity with a great race team and almost winning a few championships. Now I feel like I am going through something similar, a little harder to get through, and I learned a lot last year that will help me into my future for the next 20 years. I you have to give up one for 20, I think everyone would do that.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR SUGGESTIONS OR IDEAS OR OPINIONS HAVE HAD ANY INFLUENCE WHEN IT COMES TO NASCAR EXECUTIVES? “Yes, it does. I don’t know there that question would stem from but I do feel like it has some weight for sure. I am in constant communication with a lot of the executives at NASCAR. Now it is more transparent than ever. Are there some communication gaps, yes. We can work on that. They are willing to work on that. There are so many different things in our sport that have to work together for us to move forward. There is TV and the media, the race tracks, drivers, owners, everything. Everyone has to be on the same page to move forward and the communication needs to be open for us to get through. We may miss something. That is part of it. There are so many different ways but we can be better at it. We are way better than we have ever been before as far as being transparent to each other and understanding we are all in the same boat and as a sport we can work together to grow and on the race track we can still be competitors and want to win and be selfish on the race track but be selfless when we are away from the track to grow our sport and keep it thriving. I think that is important for us and I see that all the way through the industry.”

CAN OTHER SPORTS TAKE A LESSON FROM THAT? “I don’t know. I don’t know about other sports. I don’t watch other sports. I care about NASCAR racing.”

IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT YOU AND BRAD WORK REALLY WELL ON THE SUPERSPEEDWAYS? “We do always seem to be together don’t we? I think our mental thoughts inside the cars are similar. We spend a lot of time together. We are friends. There is a trust level. I know that he isn’t going to leave me hanging or bail on me to do something or do something that hurts both of us. I think we both understand that. We don’t talk about it anymore. We used to before speedway races. Now it is just kind of like, ‘alright, see you out there.’ You know it is going to happen. He started last in the Clash and I started third and I knew that we would find each other and work around each other and then eventually we ended up racing each other for the win which was great.”

IS THERE A CONCENTRATED EFFOR TO PROTECT EACH OTHER AND NOT PUT EACH OTHER IN A BAD SPOT? “I think we have a solid understanding that says I will help you as long as it doesn’t hurt me. That is kind of the recipe that we use a lot. We talk about it. If it is going to hurt you, don’t help me. That would be unfair. But if the opportunity is there to go one way or another and one is going to hurt me, then help me and I will do the same for you.”

WHO WILL BE THE NEXT MOST POPULAR DRIVER NOW THAT JUNIOR HAS RETIRED? “Joey Logano. Maybe. We will have to wait and see. Honestly I think it is out there for anyone for the taking at this point. It is a tough question. There are a lot of good personalities that are coming in that are new and a lot that have been here a long time that are pretty exciting that we know pretty well. I guess it is for whoever wants it. If you go out there and do the extra effort and things to try to become that, go for it. It is a great accomplishment to have. Something special. There are only a few drivers that have ever won it. It seems like once a guy wins it they win it over and over. If we could win it once, that would be great.”

WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT TOMORROW NIGHT? WINNING THE RACE? COLLECTING POINTS? OR KEEPING YOUR CAR INTACT? “D, all of the above. I am going to go with winning. Then my car would be in one piece, I would have the points and I would have the trophy.”

DO YOU WORRY ABOUT CONCUSSIONS? “I am probably not as well educated on concussions as some others are. I do think it is something that nobody completely understands yet. We have done a lot of things to try to diagnose it better as a sport. We do the baseline test and do all these exams after you crash. That is great. I am all about it. If you tell me I am not supposed to be in the car, I want to know. I don’t want to do something that can hurt myself and not know any better. Our sport has done a good job at trying to diagnose it soon and before we do any more damage. I don’t know much about them and I don’t think anyone really knows the answers but I like the effort that is being put forward.”

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN THE CAR FROM LAST YEAR THAT YOU CAN TELL SO FAR? “Speed is up but the lack of stability down the straightaways is probably the most challenging part for most cars out there that I see. We saw the crash with Larson into one and the 48 car getting pushed on the backstretch and how unstable those cars were. And I know where my car was. I think the lack of downforce has kind of changed the game quite a bit. I think the way the runs come and what you can do with them has changed as well with the bigger spoiler and lower tails. It has kind of changed that whole part of the game as well. It was fun to be a part of it because you are learning so much. It is still a Cup car and still drafts like a Cup car but there are little minor tweak that are different in the way we race now.”

INAUDIBLE: “What am I going to do? I just get to the front and hopefully they crash behind you. Other drivers may run around the back and wait for the crash. That has never been my way of doing it. I try to get up there and race up front and that way you know what your car is going to do and if it works it works, if something happens, something happens. That is my attitude. I want to race up front and lead every lap if I can.”

HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE DRIVERS COUNCIL GROWN IN YOUR TIME ON IT? “We have come a long way from the beginning. Originally it was a way to figure out how we could all come together and have one voice to have more influence in our sport. You know how drivers are. There are 40 of them with different opinions. It is hard to all get on one page. It is a way to communicate to the other drivers, a way to communicate to NASCAR on what we see from the competition and marketing side, from the security side, how we all feel as drivers. It is a way for us to be one voice. It has been very valuable. The thing we all have to realize is that what may work for us doesn’t work for TV, doesn’t work for the race tracks, doesn’t work for the race teams. We all have to realize that and vice versa. The more transparent we can be, that is the next step for us. How can all the councils work together closer? Once of the best things we did so far was this whole stage racing. That is probably the biggest win of not just the drivers council, but all the councils coming together to make that change. A huge change. Biggest in years. I think it was a great success. Amazing. I think it is the way racing will be for years and years to come.

IS IT AWKWARD TO BE IN A ROOM WITH DRIVERS MAYBE AFTER YOU HAVE HAD ISSUES ON THE TRACK, AND HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER OFF THE TRACK? “Sometimes. It could be. I think all of us are mature enough to know that we are in those meetings, working together as one team, with NASCAR as one team to grow our sport. If we grow our sport, all of us are going to do better. It is good for everybody in the industry. We also know that when we leave that room we become competitors again. We want to beat each other. I think that is said without being said. I think it is something that as a driver on the council, you need to understand that we are here to work together. We can work out our differences later.

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